Empowered Retirement — Part 1 of Many



As many of you know I choose to make my retirement home in the Philippines.  There are a lot of pros to this idea, and a few cons.  One of the negative factors which weighs on my mind often is the mind set of the Filipino which colors virtually everything they say and do, from the president on down, with the “weak sister” attitude of “Oh we are a tiny, third-world nation so everything that’s wrong is just … well, overwhelming, if only we could do something about it.

As a senior and retiree at a relatively early age … fully retired at age 61, I am of course interested in almost all aspects of the retirement and aging process.  But one thing that particularly burns me up is the common attitude of seniors, and those who advise them, that retirees are just “poor, third-world” folk who are powerless to do anything while being swept along in the tsunami of retirement and if they make a mistake …Oh My God, disaster!

I’m writing this bog to try to convey to my fellow seniors and retirees that this mind set is just bogus!   it’s self-defeating, it colors what should be a happy time in our lives with continuous shades of gray, and it’s the world’s most shining example of the self-fulfilling prophecy at work … if you think your life is finished, it is.  If you think that you are powerless, you are.  Lies, damn lies and balderdash, say I.

Because this is the year 3007 and huge numbers of Americans are caught up in the other modern fallacy of our time … If something goes wrong it has to be someone’s fault, so sue!, I have to add this disclaimer.  I am not a professional retirement planner, tax advisor or lawyer.  Seek the help of qualified professionals before taking any action on my advice… better yet, think of it as commentary and opinion, not advice.

OK, that nonsense out of the way, here’s a very well written article that epitomizes what’s wrong with this whole “powerless” retirement picture.  I strongly suggest you read the full article about a retirement plan gone wrong and then come back here where I will make some comments and suggestions.

Phil Horstman retired at 55 with a nest egg of $1.5 million and a lot of confidence his best years were ahead.

Seven years later, the Murrieta, Calif., resident is down to $300,000 and is, as he puts it, “running out of money and options.”

Horstman takes $28,800 a year from his retirement accounts for living expenses, a withdrawal rate that once seemed paltry but that now will have him broke in about 12 years — far short of the 25 or 30 years he’s expected to live.

Horstman is a poster boy for almost everything that can go wrong in retirement, from a bear market early on, to a withdrawal rate that proved unsustainable, to questionable financial advice that kept him invested in risky assets even as his portfolio plunged.

“My financial adviser didn’t deliver in providing me with a secure retirement income,” Horstman wrote me in an e-mail. “He kept telling me that the market would come back. Well, it hasn’t in my case.” …

Interesting words.  And interesting comments regarding what Phil expected from his financial adviser.  You know from time to time I have thought about going into that business.  of course, I haven’t.  The requirement to pick up a lot of formal education, certifications and such is one obstacle … but the biggest obstacle is that I don’t want to deal with people with Phil’s mind set and find someone to blame philosophy.  Sorry about your luck, Phil, but use the common English dictionary and learn the language of our birth:  A “provider” or “supplier” delivers, an “adviser” or “planner”, well, they advise, by definition they don’t deliver.  Tune in next post for some further analysis of Phil’s dilemma.

As always, feel free to leave a comment, write me an email at: davestarr (at) gmail (dot) com, or call me on 1-719-423-8872, or chat with me on Yahoo Messenger: davestarr(at)yahoo(dot)com.  I’ll be happy to hear about subjects you want me to cover, places you feel I have erred, real life experiences good and bad, or just to toss out ideas you may have.  There is no charge and no catch.

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